The Fountain (2006)

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Released 9-Oct-2007

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Fantasy Deleted Scenes-Life on Ship
Featurette-Making Of-6 Part Documentary
Interviews-Cast-Hugh Jackman
Web Links
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2006
Running Time 92:57
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (84:42) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Darren Aronofsky
Studio
Distributor

Twentieth Century Fox
Starring Hugh Jackman
Rachel Weisz
Ellen Burstyn
Mark Margolis
Stephen McHattie
Fernando Hernandez
Cliff Curtis
Sean Patrick Thomas
Donna Murphy
Ethan Suplee
Richard McMillan
Lorne Brass
Abraham Aronofsky
Case ?
RPI ? Music Clint Mansell


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

   

"Finish It"

    Darren Aronofsky has quickly made a reputation as a filmmaker with a unique and challenging vision, despite having only made three features at this point of his career. His first feature, Pi, was followed by the multi-award winning Requiem for a Dream which has now been followed by this film, The Fountain. This film had a difficult development process, having been initially green-lit to star Brad Pitt & Cate Blanchett. Production began in Australia in 2002 but was quickly canned by the studio once Brad Pitt left the set to make Troy. Aronofsky (who also wrote the screenplay) used this opportunity to rewrite the script and redefine the film with what he refers to as 'a more independent spirit'. Production restarted in 2004 with a much smaller budget and a very different cast, headed by Hugh Jackman and Aronofsky's fiancée, Rachel Wiesz. This time, production was smoother and resulted in the finished film. It was released to cinemas but unfortunately did not set the box office alight, which is a shame considering the quality of the film.

    The film's plot is quite hard to describe as it is a little bit 'out there', not that this is necessarily a bad thing. The best way to describe it in simple terms is a love story told over 1000s of years, across three distinct times. The earliest is in 16th century Spain and involves a Conquistador, Tomas (Hugh Jackman) sent by his Queen Isabella (Rachel Wiesz) to New Spain (South America) to find the Tree of Life in order to save Spain and the Queen from the ravages of the inquisition. The second time period is in the modern day and involves a medical research specialist, Dr Tommy Creo (Jackman) and his seriously ill wife, Izzi (Weisz). Izzi has terminal cancer and Tommy is trying to find a cure for her. Izzi is writing a book called The Fountain, which tells the story of Tomas. She has not written the last chapter, hence the quote above. The last (and weirdest) involves Tommy or Tomas or both in the far future piloting a space ship, which is basically only made up of a tree in a bubble, towards a nebula which is the Mayan version of heaven, Xibulba. At a more metaphysical level, this film is about the nature of death and how coming to terms with death allows us to live.

    This is certainly not a film for everyone but it is a challenging and thought provoking piece of cinema which doesn't pander to its audience. It leaves lots of room for interpretation and leaves you considering its themes for days after watching it. It would be easy to write it off as a load of old cobblers (which some critics have done) but my personal view is that different and enigmatic films are so few and far between that they should be applauded just for getting a different vision to the screen. Visually, this is a very interesting film with very little use of CGI but lots of interesting visual effects. There is a repeated motif of long dark journey's towards the light which ties in with the film's main theme. Hugh Jackman is excellent in his role (or roles depending on how you look at it) with great emotional intensity. Rachel Weisz is also very good but the film's focus is on Jackman's character and his feelings about her character.

    My main criticisms of this film would be that to me it does not seem long enough (at just over 90 minutes) to do justice to its complex story and the third time period in the future is not terribly well explained and somewhat pretentious in terms of production and costume design. These should not be perceived as reasons not to see the film as I would certainly recommend it for people who enjoy cinema outside the mainstream which requires thought and digestion.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The video quality is somewhat disappointing for a new release film. It certainly will not challenge the Blu-ray version which is available of this title.

    The feature is presented in a 1.85:1 aspect ratio 16x9 enhanced which is the original aspect ratio.

    The main issue with this transfer is softness of the image which is probably due to an average bitrate of 4.7 Mb/s. With only one audio track and one subtitle track plus significant amounts of free disc space I cannot understand why this video transfer could not have been done at a higher bitrate. It has not resulted in any obvious MPEG compression artefacts but the lack of sharpness is a concern. The shadow detail was quite good which was necessary for a film with a dark colour scheme such as this one.

    The colour was very good, although there was some light colour bleeding which I believe was probably intentional.

    There are subtitles in English for the Hearing Impaired which are clear and easy to read but somewhat summarised from the spoken word. There are also burned in subtitles for the Mayan language used during the film.

    The layer change occurs at 84:42 and is not noticeable.
    

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    The audio quality is very good.

    This DVD contains an English Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack encoded at 448 Kb/s.

    Dialogue was mostly clear and easy to understand and there was no problem with audio sync.

    The score of this film by Clint Mansell is excellent, providing a very atmospheric backdrop for the film. It is performed by the Kronos Quartet and Scottish group Mogwai. Mansell was nominated for a Golden Globe for this score.

    The surround speakers were used regularly for both atmosphere and directional effects. The soundfield was very immersive.

     The subwoofer was also well used, adding appropriate tension and bass to the music.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Menu

    The menu design is simple but functional. It is silent and still.

Deleted Scene - Life on Ship (4:37)

    This is not really explained, just being titled on the menu as Life on Ship but it seems to be an extended / deleted scene of Jackman on board his spaceship. Doesn't add much. It is 16x9 enhanced.

Inside the Fountain - Death & Rebirth

    This is a six part documentary which covers the making of this film, including the original false start which is refreshing to see included, as many Hollywood making-of's tend to avoid mentioning anything vaguely negative. A seventh part has been added for our local release which is not included in the Region 1 version. I will cover this separately. The six parts are:

  1. Australia (7:42) Covers the false start in 2002 when the production was going to have a bigger budget and different stars (although they are not mentioned).
  2. The 21st Century (10:22) Covers the filming of the modern day sections in Canada in 2004. This and the next section are probably a little too long.
  3. Spain - 16th Century (13:35) Covers filming of the scenes set in Spain, in Jan 2005.
  4. New Spain (10:01) Covers the filming of the scenes in New Spain such as the fights and Mayan extras, some of whom were shipped in from South America to Quebec.
  5. The Endless Field (7:12) Covers the section where Tomas finds the Tree which includes most of the CGI.
  6. The Future (15:15) Covers the spaceship section including how the visual effects were achieved, shaving Jackman's head and the totally organic set.

The Interview (13:11)

    This is labelled on the disc as Section 7 of the documentary but is not included in other regions and does not fit with the rest from a style perspective. This is a chat between Rachel Weisz and Hugh Jackman on the last day of principal photography. Weisz plays the role of the journalist and Jackman discusses how he got involved, what he thought of the script, the themes and meaning of the film and his feelings about making the film. Interesting.

Weblink

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The Region 4 version of this disc misses out on;

    The Region 1 version of this disc misses out on;

    Based on reviews I have read, the Region 1 release would seem to have a better video transfer than ours which outweighs the two extras in my mind, but obviously the choice is yours. This film is available locally on Blu-ray and in the US on both Blu-ray and HD DVD.

Summary

    A fascinating and challenging mythological fantasy romance.

    The video quality is somewhat disappointing especially in terms of sharpness.

    The audio quality is very good.

    A good selection of extras are included but no commentary.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Daniel Bruce (Do you need a bio break?)
Tuesday, July 31, 2007
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV667A DVD-V DVD-A SACD, using Component output
DisplaySony FD Trinitron Wega KV-AR34M36 80cm. Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL). This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 576i (PAL)/480i (NTSC).
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationPioneer VSX-511
SpeakersMonitor Audio Bronze 2 (Front), Bronze Centre & Bronze FX (Rears) + Yamaha YST SW90 subwoofer

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add)
Online Commentary -
Thanks for the info - Sorrow (bio - mechanical existence)